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Forum Post: A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning

Posted 5 years ago on Oct. 7, 2013, 7:05 p.m. EST by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR
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A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning

Another damn post election loss GOP Caucus Room sabotage plot!

WASHINGTON — Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by [ Ronnie Fucking Ragun's ] former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy [ beyond hostage taking ] that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”

Last week the country witnessed the fallout from that strategy: a standoff that has shuttered much of the federal bureaucracy and unsettled the nation.

To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.

With polls showing Americans deeply divided over the law, conservatives believe that the public is behind them. Although the law’s opponents say that shutting down the government was not their objective, the activists anticipated that a shutdown could occur — and worked with members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress who were excited about drawing a red line against a law they despise.

A defunding “tool kit” ( http://www.teapartypatriots.org/2013/09/get-your-defunding-obamacare-toolkit/ ) created in early September included talking points for the question, “What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?” The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: “We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.”

The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

The groups have also sought to pressure vulnerable Republican members of Congress with scorecards keeping track of their health care votes; have burned faux “Obamacare cards” on college campuses; and have distributed scripts for phone calls to Congressional offices, sample letters to editors and Twitter and Facebook offerings for followers to present as their own.

One sample Twitter offering — “Obamacare is a train wreck” — is a common refrain for Speaker John A. Boehner.

As the defunding movement picked up steam among outside advocates, Republicans who sounded tepid became targets. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee dedicated to “electing true conservatives,” ran radio advertisements against three Republican incumbents.

Heritage Action ran critical Internet advertisements in the districts of 100 Republican lawmakers who had failed to sign a letter by a North Carolina freshman, Representative Mark Meadows, urging Mr. Boehner to take up the defunding cause.

“They’ve been hugely influential,” said David Wasserman, who tracks House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “When else in our history has a freshman member of Congress from North Carolina been able to round up a gang of 80 that’s essentially ground the government to a halt?”

On Capitol Hill, the advocates found willing partners in Tea Party conservatives, who have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government if they do not get their way on spending issues. This time they said they were so alarmed by the health law that they were willing to risk a shutdown over it. (“This is exactly what the public wants,” Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, said on the eve of the shutdown.)

CONTINUED: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/a-federal-budget-crisis-months-in-the-planning.html?_r=0



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[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

A Senator Gets Mad About The Shutdown And Starts Naming Names. About Time.

Since the media seems to think this whole thing is a bipartisan mess, I thought I'd get a second opinion. Take it away, Senator. (At 4:00, she nails it.) And the name she names? It's a party. Not a person.


[-] 0 points by MyBrothersKeeper (-36) 5 years ago

The damage is done and getting compounded day by day. The irony is that the strategy to keep the poor at bay also turns out to be a strategy that will crash WallSt, the corrupting force for both parties.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Sen. Sanders: Koch Brothers Plotted Shutdown 'Day After Obama Re-Elected'

By Diane Sweet | October 07, 2013 10:00 AM | Video

As the government shutdown headed into a second week with no resolution in sight, Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday made three key points.

First, Democrats already made significant concessions in the budget talks by agreeing to lower spending levels. The Senate went along with a House budget that would continue across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. That was a “major concession,” Sanders said, but House Republicans keep adding new demands.

Second, the senator doubted House Speaker John Boehner’s claim that the Senate-passed spending resolution wouldn’t pass the House. In fact, some 20 House Republicans have signaled that they would support a so-called clean resolution and vote with House Democrats to reopen the government “Bring it to a vote, let's find out what's happening,” Sanders told Thomas Roberts on MSNBC.

Third, the shutdown strategy was planned and paid for by the Koch brothers and other wealthy individuals who want to defund the Affordable Care Act, cut Social Security benefits, end Medicare as we know it, abolish the minimum wage and cut other programs that help working families. Their attitude, Sanders said, is “to use every ounce of leverage, even if it means catastrophic pain for America and the world, so long as we get our way.” He cited a Sunday New York Times expose that detailed how the Koch brothers and others plotted the shutdown “from the day after Obama was re-elected.”

VIDEO: http://occupyamerica.crooksandliars.com/diane-sweet/sen-sanders-koch-brothers-plotted-shut#sthash.qxrBpxWH.dpbs

[-] -1 points by MyBrothersKeeper (-36) 5 years ago

A conspiracy to crash our economy is a crime. If any other politician really wanted to stop this, they could have. They had ample time and knowledge. They let it happen. If OWS conspired to crash the economy, what would be the outcome?

[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

And now we have GOP-Shutdown Deniers.

As much as you seem to need it, I'm not going to conduct a Civics Class for you. The info is out there, you just have to seek & learn. Although a RepubliCon Congress impeached a Dem POTUS over a blowjob, we cannot lawfully arrest, impeach, and hang the 1%-Cons for extorting and terrorizing our government and country because they seem to be acting within the laws they have changed (but they are seriously pushing their luck), and Dems aren't the fascist dictators Cons are. The means we have established to deal with these traitorous GOP-bagger bastards, is to Vote. But in 2010 when most of these assholes invaded our government, millions of Newbie Dems who elected our first black POTUS had a tantrum because he didn't reverse 40 years of 1%-RepubliCon-MIC-Big $ entrenched corruption in 2 years, and didn't Vote. Now we have all this. Elections have both good and bad consequences, this is the bad.

So remember to Vote in this coming midterm in November 2014, so that more of these bastards don't invade and make the internet illegal, making info about civics and political sabotage impossible for many to obtain.

[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Yes, if you read the articles comparing this 1%-GOP pathology to the Southern Plantation Owner pathology, you see they both erroneously believe fairness and welfare are zero sum games. And the states with the highest number of uninsured (health care deprived) are both GOP governed and are rejecting ACA coverage.

Damaging: yes. Compounded: of course. But because of the amazing resiliency & power of our democracy, all we have to do to turn it all around is TURNOUT ~ Vote!


[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Here Are Three Debt-Ceiling Lies You’ll Hear From the GOP This Week

by Michael Tomasky Oct 7, 2013 5:45 AM EDT

So, a default really wouldn’t be that bad? That’s what Republicans are going to start saying this week as the debt-ceiling debate ramps up. Michael Tomasky debunks the talking points in advance.


Attention will turn more sharply this week in the direction of the debt ceiling and the question of a possible default. We’re just 10 days away from D-Day, and since default is a much bigger deal than a shutdown, we’re going to have a week of cable debates about who’ll be to blame if the country defaults. It is with that in mind that offer you three arguments you’re sure to hear Republicans make. They’re all foolish or false or both, so clip this list and tape it to your refrigerator. The roof is finally starting to fall in on these serial liars, and I want you to be part of the growing army of Americans that knows a lie when it hears one.

1.) A default wouldn’t really be that bad. [ sounds familiar ]

We haven’t heard this very much yet, but I expect it will start getting a stern workout this week. It was a heavy talking point back in 2011.

I remember reading, back in the summer, how Republicans had decided that they weren’t going to fight too much over a possible government shutdown, as they knew it would make them unpopular, and they were going to save their powder for a debt-limit battle. Of course, that was then. They obviously changed strategies and decided to fight on both, because when it comes to fighting with Obama they’re just lab monkeys with cocaine, and because Ted Cruz made them. But I remember thinking, How in God’s green acres did they settle on that strategy? I was aghast.

While a shutdown is terrible, it’s not in the same solar system of disaster as a default. But the substance meant nothing at all to them. What mattered was that a shutdown is comparatively easy for the public to grasp, while the debt-limit topic is confusing. So the idea that they might be jeopardizing the national and world economies didn’t mean a thing to them during their summer strategy sessions. The debt fight provided the better opportunity for them to confuse the public and disguise their game of Russian roulette over settled law (Obamacare), and it polled better.

The Republicans’ insouciant stance on the substance of the thing goes back to 2011. The journalist Robert Draper reported an amusing-horrifying episode in his book on the 2010 class, Do Not Ask What Good We Do. The party leadership brought in Republican economists to tell them how awful a default would be. The government would be able to pay only about half its bills, federal prisons would be shut down, interest rates would shoot through the roof. They were largely unmoved, Draper wrote.

The same thing is happening now. They just don’t believe the doomsayers. It’s liberal propaganda, just like all that “hooey” that gets talked about the polar ice cap melting. So you’re going to start hearing this idiocy again. Be forearmed.

People who’ve persuaded themselves that default won’t have serious ramifications are people capable of doing, and certainly of saying, anything.

2.) Obama is a big hypocrite because he voted against a debt-limit increase while Bush was president.

Yes, he did cast such a vote, but no, he’s not a hypocrite, not even a small one. The reason is simple. Democrats made no threats when they cast their votes. They knew they were going to lose and had no real intention of winning.

It was March 16, 2006, when Obama cast the fateful vote. But the Democrats’ votes, Obama’s included, were purely symbolic. The Republicans controlled the Senate at the time, 55-45. The increase in the debt limit, the fourth in George W. Bush’s tenure, passed, 52-48, with three Republicans voting with all the Democrats.

But the Democrats knew they were going to lose. They were in the minority; duh. They did not choose to filibuster, which they could have done and which would have meant the Republicans needed 60 votes. If they’d done so, that would have been hardball, and in that case, Obama would have been a participant in a real threat against American creditworthiness. Even then it wouldn’t have been the same as what the GOP is doing now, unless those 45 Democrats had demanded, oh, that Bush rescind his tax cuts or his Medicare Part D bill or some other signal legislative achievement.

But the Democrats did no such thing. They cast symbolic votes to force Republicans to vote to increase the debt limit. So Obama’s 2006 vote means nothing and bears no resemblance to what’s going on today.

3.) The Democrats won’t compromise, wah wah wah!

The GOP has already been complaining about the Democrats' unwillingness to compromise.

A huge lie. Here’s a fact I’d bet no more than 2 percent of the American public knows: that “clean” continuing resolution the Senate passed, with Democrats backing it and Republicans opposing it? That CR carried the levels of funding for government agencies demanded by Republicans, not Democrats.

That’s right. The Senate CR funds the government in the coming weeks at a level of $988 billion. The Democrats wanted $1.058 billion. But they passed a bill at Republican levels. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said late last week: “My caucus really didn’t like that. We took a real hit…So that’s one of the largest compromises since I’ve been in Congress.”

Now why did they pass a bill at the GOP’s preferred levels? Because, Reid said late last week, he had assurances from Boehner that the House speaker wouldn’t attach demands to the Senate CR if Reid brought it in at $988 billion. So this whole thing started with a significant Democratic compromise. But once the Republicans decided that they were going to use both the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to defund and/or delay Obamacare, they couldn’t even vote for a bill that gave them a major fiscal victory. That’s how dug in and crazy they are.

So don’t be fooled. The GOP [ & false flag complainers ] position is dishonest and destructive beyond words. I’d still bet that complete disaster will be averted, but with this bunch, you never quite know. People who’ve persuaded themselves that default won’t have serious ramifications are people capable of doing, and certainly of saying, anything.

[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

The Boehner Bunglers

By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: October 6, 2013

The federal government is shut down, we’re about to hit the debt ceiling (with disastrous economic consequences), and no resolution is in sight. How did this happen?

The main answer, which only the most pathologically “balanced” reporting can deny, is the radicalization of the Republican Party. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it last year in their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” the G.O.P. has become “an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

[ The 1%-GOP ~ sick & tired of democracy ~ are conducting a coup! ]

But there’s one more important piece of the story. Conservative leaders are indeed ideologically extreme, but they’re also deeply incompetent. So much so, in fact, that the Dunning-Kruger effect — the truly incompetent can’t even recognize their own incompetence — reigns supreme.

To see what I’m talking about, consider the report in Sunday’s Times about the origins of the current crisis. Early this year, it turns out, some of the usual suspects — the Koch brothers, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and others — plotted strategy in the wake of Republican electoral defeat. Did they talk about rethinking ideas that voters had soundly rejected? No, they talked extortion, insisting that the threat of a shutdown would induce President Obama to abandon health reform.

This was crazy talk. After all, health reform is Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. You’d have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy by a defeated, unpopular G.O.P. — as opposed to responding, as he has, by making resistance to blackmail an issue of principle. But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn’t seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists.

Even more remarkable, in its way, was the response of House Republican leaders, who didn’t tell the activists they were being foolish. All they did was urge that the extortion attempt be made over the debt ceiling rather than a government shutdown. And as recently as last week Eric Cantor, the majority leader, was in effect assuring his colleagues that the president will, in fact, give in to blackmail. As far as anyone can tell, Republican leaders are just beginning to suspect that Mr. Obama really means what he has been saying all along.

Many people seem perplexed by the transformation of the G.O.P. into the political equivalent of the Keystone Kops — the Boehner Bunglers? Republican elders, many of whom have been in denial about their party’s radicalization, seem especially startled. But all of this was predictable.

It has been obvious for years that the modern Republican Party is no longer capable of thinking seriously about policy. Whether the issue is climate change or inflation, party members believe what they want to believe, and any contrary evidence is dismissed as a hoax, the product of vast liberal conspiracies.

For a while the party was able to compartmentalize, to remain savvy and realistic about politics even as it rejected objectivity everywhere else. But this wasn’t sustainable. Sooner or later, the party’s attitude toward policy — we listen only to people who tell us what we want to hear, and attack the bearers of uncomfortable news — was bound to infect political strategy, too.

Remember what happened in the 2012 election — not the fact that Mitt Romney lost, but the fact that all the political experts around him apparently had no inkling that he was likely to lose. Polls overwhelmingly pointed to an Obama victory, but Republican analysts denounced the polls as “skewed” and attacked the media outlets reporting those polls for their alleged liberal bias. These days Karl Rove is pleading with House Republicans to be reasonable and accept the results of the 2012 election. But on election night he tried to bully Fox News into retracting its correct call of Ohio — and hence, in effect, the election — for Mr. Obama.

Unfortunately for all of us, even the shock of electoral defeat wasn’t enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble; it’s still a party dominated by wishful thinking, and all but impervious to inconvenient facts. And now that party’s leaders have bungled themselves into a corner.

Everybody not inside the bubble realizes that Mr. Obama can’t and won’t negotiate under the threat that the House will blow up the economy if he doesn’t — any concession at all would legitimize extortion as a routine part of politics. Yet Republican leaders are just beginning to get a clue, and so far clearly have no idea how to back down. Meanwhile, the government is shut, and a debt crisis looms. Incompetence can be a terrible thing.

[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago



To Understand the Shutdown ~ which many apparently don't ~ You Have to Grasp the Mindset of the GOP Base

October 5, 2013 | by Joshua Holland


[-] 0 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

The Voters Who Elected The Obstructionists

Isaiah J. Poole | Campaign for America's Future | October 8, 2013

Important to understanding why the federal government has been shut down by a group of unyielding, extremist congressional conservatives is to understand the voters who elected them. That was the goal of a series of focus groups conducted this summer by Democracy Corps, and its report on those focus groups presents an important challenge for progressives.

The “Inside the GOP” report describes a segment of the Republican electorate that is “’worried,’ ‘discouraged,’ ‘scared,’ and ‘concerned’ about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course.” The reasons why would to progressives suggest that these voters live in an alternate universe with little connection to the real world: They think President Obama has succeeded in imposing a “socialist” agenda on the country and that Republicans in Congress have allowed that to happen.

Fed by Fox News and conservative pundits, these voters see a federal government that is using programs like the Affordable Care Act, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, extended unemployment benefits and other safety net programs to create a dependency class, and thus a loyal political base of support for the Democratic Party agenda.

“While many voters, even some Democrats, question whether Obama is succeeding and getting his agenda done, Republicans think he has won,” the report says. “The country may think gridlock has won, particularly during a Republican-led government shut down, but Republicans see a president who has fooled and manipulated the public, lied, and gotten his secret socialist-Marxist agenda done. Republicans and their kind of Americans are losing.”

That broad statement, though, needs context. There are clear fissures in the Republican Party that are evident to even casual observers. Christian conservatives are most disturbed by such social changes as marriage equality that they believe are debasing American culture. Tea Party Republicans are more concerned about the size and power of government, and government spending, and include voters with a more libertarian bent than those who identify as Christian conservatives.

The Democracy Corps report also identified a moderate bloc that it says makes up about a quarter of the party that is distinctly uncomfortable with the Tea Party and Christian conservative wings. They share the view that government is too big and inefficient, but they also believe the Republican Party in Washington is at least partly responsible for gridlock and dysfunction.

The report does not offer any political prescriptions; it strives instead to describe “the future battle ahead.” There is no suggestion that these voters are “winnable.” But this does challenge progressives to present a narrative and a set of values that speaks broadly to the economic anxieties that most Americans share.

The word cloud from the focus groups on the first page of the report serves as a starting point. Americans are “worried,” “concerned” and “scared” for good reason, given the economic forces that have held down the middle class and have kept the lowest-income Americans from climbing out of poverty. But recent electoral victories like that of Bill de Blasio in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, and his current commanding lead over Republican challenger Joseph J. Lhota, demonstrates that a progressive populist narrative that speaks head-on to these anxieties can win broad support.

That narrative explains how we got into this mess, and points the finger at the nexus of big money, failed conservative ideology and, as is now transparently clear, rejection of basic democratic values that has brought us to the precipice of economic and political catastrophe.

That narrative also sets forth the vision that if we get the government back into the business of growing the economy, a sense of hope will also grow, and the values of generosity and fairness that have helped fuel America’s most progressive strides forward can once again prevail.

There has always been an extreme right fringe in American politics. We can’t hope to make it disappear, but we can rob it of its power.